Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette have sold two sequels to their wonderful novel A Companion to Wolves! I actually had missed that piece of news until I read a review of the book over at Adventures in Reading today. According to the post on Bear’s Livejournal, the next two books are tentatively named An Apprentice of Elves and A Reckoning of Men. Since I loved the first book, I cannot wait to read the rest and am thrilled that they finally decided to write more (since Bear’s site has said a sequel or two was possible for a while).

I was so thrilled to see that Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book won the Newberry Medal! It was one of my favorite books I read last year and I’m sure it would have been one I loved when I was a kid, too. Congratulations to Neil Gaiman who sounds very excited (if you click on the above link you’ll see what I mean)!

I’m going to keep it short tonight because I’m exhausted. After work I went out to dinner for an anniversary, then we got a flat tire, had to have the car towed, and had to take a taxi home. What a night. At least we got the flat tire while at Borders where I used up the rest of my gift cards while waiting. It was a tough choice since there were quite a few books I wanted to get, but I ended up with:

A Shadow in Summer by Daniel Abraham
Kitty and the Midnight Hour by Carrie Vaughn
Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier
Biting the Sun by Tanith Lee

I got the first two because I’m now reading Inside Straight and really liked the parts written by Abraham and Vaughn. The other two are ones I’ve thought about getting for a while.

Hopefully this week I’ll get up that review of The Jackal of Nar. After that, I now also need to review Kushiel’s Dart and Childhood’s End (which I was very silly to be afraid of).

I wasn’t planning to post my favorite books read in 2008 here, but I had a request to do so since the link to the post at The Book Smugglers no longer went to it after their blog moved. I fixed the link to go to their fabulous new blog but figured I may as well post it here again as requested. So if you already read that, this is just a repeat of the same (but not as pretty, since I didn’t put the pictures back in).

The following is a list of my top 10 favorite books I’ve read this year (regardless of year of publication since only about 20% of the 54 I read were published this past year). To add some variety, I made a rule that I’m limiting one book per series to a list – otherwise, there would be a lot of repeat occurrences since I discovered some great new series this year. I am also going to forget about whether or not my head thought the book was worthy of a higher rating and go entirely with how much the book stuck with me and affected me personally.

1. The Virtu (#2 The Doctrine of Labyrinth) by Sarah Monette

The entire The Doctrine of Labyrinth series is my absolute favorite new book discovery of the year and The Virtu had the tightest plot and most interesting developments of the three. It’s dark, populated with two very different yet in some ways very similar characters with huge flaws and emotional issues – the wizard Felix Harrowgate and the assassin Mildmay. Both men were so well drawn that I couldn’t read enough about them. Monette is one of those authors who asks herself what the worst possible thing she can do to her characters is and then does it, so her books are far from cheery and light. They are gripping, intense and include some of the best characterization I’ve ever read. You can tell the author poured her heart and soul into those two characters, and considering Monette is a new novelist, I expect great things to come from her.

2. Shades of Dark (#2 Dock Five Universe) by Linnea Sinclair

Gabriel’s Ghost, the first book in this science fiction romance series was my first book by Linnea Sinclair. I suppose you could say I liked it since the day I finished it, I almost immediately went to the bookstore to buy the next one – and was halfway through it by the time I went to bed that night. With its darker tone, the newer book was my favorite of the two but both had an engaging storyline and characters I really cared about. They were both almost impossible to put down. It was days before I stopped thinking about these two books all the time and I have yet to get over the way Shades of Dark ended.

3. The Book of Joby by Mark Ferrari

Mark Ferrari’s impressive debut novel read like the author was an experienced writer. The Book of Joby is a modern retelling of the Book of Job from the Bible incorporated with the story of King Arthur. God and Lucifer meet over lattes in a New England coffee shop only to have the Devil challenge God to what the Creator refers to as “that same stupid bet.” The fate of the entire world depends on Joby, chosen as God’s candidate – if Joby fails, the entire world will be destroyed and redesigned according to Lucifer’s instructions. This story of one man’s struggle against great odds drew me in immediately and contained a great mixture of happy moments, tragedy, and humor.

4. The Player of Games (A Culture Novel) by Iain M. Banks

The Player of Games is intelligent space opera featuring a master of strategy games as the main character instead of an action/adventure hero. This was my introduction to the Culture and I found the idealistic future presented fascinating. Yet as wonderful as it appeared, Banks managed to paint a darker picture of it while making it still seem like a pretty good world to live in, especially in comparison to the glamorous Empire of Azad, in which racism, sexism, and cruelty run rampant. The Player of Games is a multi-layered story containing depth – yet it is highly entertaining and not at all dry.

5. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

This is without a doubt my favorite novel by Gaiman (none of his books are as awesome as his Sandman comics, though). His fantasy retelling of The Jungle Book details the adventures of a boy raised by the inhabitants of the local cemetery after the murder of his family. At once chilling and charming, touching and humorous, this was one absorbing creative tale I didn’t want to put down.

6. Blood and Iron (Promethean Age #1) by Elizabeth Bear

All four books in this urban fantasy series are excellent, including the two books in The Stratford Man duology released this summer. While the more recent books are stronger, the first one remains my favorite because I loved the characters Elayne and Whiskey so much. Intertwined with many mythologies from the British Isles (King Arthur, Tam Lin, Puck, and Morgan La Fey are all present), Bear’s Faerie is not out of a Disney cartoon but is rather grim with complex gray characters who have to make some difficult choices.

7. Primary Inversion (The Skolian Saga) by Catherine Asaro

The first book published in this romantic space opera series (containing some hard science fiction) holds a special place in my heart because it’s the first book that really convinced me that maybe I do like science fiction after all. The Skolian empaths/telepaths are in conflict with the Eubians, a race that derives pleasure from harming others – especially empaths. This one had it all – a great female character, intriguing societies, political intrigue, forbidden romance, and a pretty cool space battle!

8. Archangel Protocol (#1 AngelLINK series) by Lyda Morehouse

Archangel Protocol takes place in a not-too-distant future in which America no longer has separation between politics and religion. This fast-paced, difficult to put down novel contains some great ideas about society, a fun mystery, and some romance. I’ve decided to call it a cyberpunk mystery romance socio-religious/political adventure. It’s the only cyberpunk I’ve ever actually found enjoyable but sadly it is out of print.

9. A Companion to Wolves by Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear

A serious parody of animal companion tales based on Norse mythology about a band of men who bond with wolves to protect the people from trolls. In spite of their knowledge of battle, these defenders of the realm are seen as unmanly by many due to their homosexual practices. When a leader’s son is chosen by a wolf, he must contend with his father’s disdain if he wants to join the society as the wolf’s companion. This novel incorporates Bear’s handling of myth with both Bear and Monette’s ability to write deeply troubled characters – of course it’s one of my favorites of the year!

10. Wanderlust (#2 Jax series) by Ann Aguirre

Grimspace (the first book in this romantic space opera series) was difficult to put down, but this one was far better and impossible to put down. Fun, fast-paced, and a bit over the top, this one had me hooked from start to finish (it’s the only book I read this year that I finished in one day). Aguirre found an excellent balance between action and keeping the plot moving while exploring character relationships.

There you have it – my top 10 favorite books of 2008! So which books can I not wait for in 2009? There are three that top the list.

1. Corambis by Sarah Monette

The fourth and final book in The Doctrine of Labyrinth series will be out in April 2009. While I’ll be sad to see it end, I can’t wait to revisit my favorite characters and find out what happens to them. This is one of those books I will have to have as soon as it is out, even if it means walking to the bookstore in a blizzard (I live in Maine – blizzards in April are a very real possibility).

2. Hope’s Folly by Linnea Sinclair

The third book in the Dock 5 Universe is about Philip Guthrie, a character appearing in the first two books, and is scheduled for release in February 2009. Although I will miss Chaz and Sully, who are now some of my favorite characters of all time, this is another book that I’d go out in a blizzard for.

3. Kings and Assassins by Lane Robins

Even though it did not make it onto my top 10 list, I was very impressed with Robins’s debut novel Maledicte, a dark fantasy novel about a young woman possessed by the goddess of love and vengeance. Robins drew me in with lush prose and gray characters. This book is actually about Janus, who seemed more evil than gray but reading about evil characters can be fun. While I wouldn’t go out in a blizzard for this one, I will get it fairly soon after its release (also in April 2009).

Other books I’m looking forward to in 2009:

Blue Diablo (Corine Solomon #1) by Ann Aguirre
Doubleblind (Jax #3) by Ann Aguirre
By the Mountain Bound (#2 The Edda of Burdens) by Elizabeth Bear
Republic of Thieves (#3 Gentleman Bastards) by Scott Lynch – I’m hoping this will be out next year anyway!
A Dance with Dragons (#5 A Song of Ice and Fire) by George R. R. Martin – This is probably wishful thinking on my part since I’ve been hoping for it the last few years.

An Accidental Goddess
by Linnea Sinclair
464pp (Paperback)
My Rating: 6/10
Amazon Rating: 4/5
LibraryThing Rating: 3.95/5
Goodreads Rating: 4.54/5

An Accidental Goddess is a science fiction romance novel by Linnea Sinclair. It is a far future sequel to Wintertide, which I did not know until after reading this one. An Accidental Goddess is self-contained and makes perfect sense read on its own, though. I read this book right after Gabriel’s Ghost and Shades of Dark because I loved those two so much that I wanted to read more by Linnea Sinclair. However, as entertaining as An Accidental Goddess was, I thought the storyline and characters in the other two books were more complex and intriguing.

Gillie Davre, Raheiran Special Forces captain, awakens in a space station 342 years after her last memory, in which her ship was being attacked. That does not faze her nearly as much as the discovery that sometime during that 342 years, she was ordained a goddess by the Khalar. Her elevation was due to the “Sacred Sacrifice” she made in the fight against the enemy, the Fav’lhir – an act believed to have resulted in her death. In addition to being the savior of the Khalar, Gillie is also part of the mageline, meaning she has telepathic powers that seem godlike to the Khalar. Many of the facts about Gillie have been forgotten, leaving a lot of myths that Gillie is not comfortable with. Since she does not want to interfere with a people’s long held religious tradition, she determines to hide her identity the best she can.

Soon after awakening in sick bay, Gillie meets Admiral Rynan Mackarian, known as “Mack.” The practical Mack immediately falls for beautiful Gillie and her lavender-green eyes, even though he initially fears she may be a smuggler. Gillie likes Mack as well but is finding it difficult to get close to him while constantly lying to hide her identity and the truth about how she ended up on the space station. Soon she uncovers a plot by her old enemy the Fav’lhir and may be the only one who can save the people of Khalar once again.

An Accidental Goddess is a light, somewhat humorous story and the pages flew by, but I just did not connect with it the same way as Linnea Sinclair’s Dock Five books. It might not be fair to compare this one to the two Dock Five books, but I can’t help it since I read this one after enjoying those ones. I really wanted to read more books like those and this book was very different. That’s not at all a bad thing since reading about the same basic characters and the same basic plot would get boring. I just found I did not love any of the characters nearly as much as the ones from the other books and this one did not resonate with me the same way. It was a much simpler story, not as dark, and very predictable.

The fun-loving, down to earth Gillie is likable enough. Being ordained as a goddess did not go to her head at all – in fact, she was quite horrified to find a shrine dedicated to her, thinking a pub built in her honor would be more appropriate. She was too good for my taste, though. Gillie’s powers are used for unselfish reasons, such as helping others or defeating the bad guys. The consequences of holding great power was not a struggle for her. Her big problem was that her powers were glorified and I find it more interesting to read about such awesome abilities being demonized, or at least having some sort of big dilemma involved. Gillie could still get herself into trouble but it tended to be for all the right reasons.

Mack, the typical nice guy, was also a bit too upright for me. He’s a very efficient, hard-working man who is the youngest admiral in the Khalaran Fleet, at 43. He had realistic struggles such as worrying about Gillie falling for a younger, more fit man, but overall, he did not have any huge quandaries. He was very realistic as an overall good person with minor human issues, but I prefer reading about people who are more complicated with a morally gray side.

The story itself was straightforward played out very much as expected. The idea of not only waking up in the future but waking up to find a whole people worshipped you was interesting initially but I felt it was a bit drawn out. It was mainly used as a humorous plot device as Gillie kept getting herself into funny situations.

An Accidental Goddess is an entertaining, straightforward story with some romance and humor. It’s a good book, but I would recommend Linnea Sinclair newbies looking for something a little less light start with Gabriel’s Ghost instead.


Other Reviews:

Based on recent conversations at the Dragon Federation, the response to Jeff’s question based on that discussion over at Fantasy Book News & Reviews, and the latest post at Racy Romance Reviews, I’ve changed the RSS feed to full text. I never really thought it mattered that much if it was partial or full since personally it doesn’t matter to me if it’s a partial feed or full when I subscribe to a blog. But I see it matters an awful lot to most other people, so I’m making it more convenient.


The March Blogger Book Club selection has been chosen by Joe of Adventures in Reading. The book club will be held from March 9 – 15 and the book is The Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler. I’ve been wanting to read a book by this author for a while so I plan to get the book and read it before that week. Hopefully I’ll have better luck with that one than I did Schismatrix Plus (which I tried to read twice and then gave up on since I was already in the middle of one book and didn’t have a lot of time for reading at the moment anyway). For bloggers who want to participate, all you have to do is read the book, put up a review during that week, and link to/discuss the other reviews. It’s rather informal.

Mulluane from Dragons, Heroes and Wizards recently proposed setting up an SFF Blog Forum. The Dragon Federation has already been set up and this blog and many others have their own sections. After I get caught up with reviews, I’ll have to spend some more time over there.

Tia at Fantasy Debut suggested holding a Book Blogger Convention and set up a Book Blogger Convention Blog for discussing the idea. It would be a lot of fun, but I suspect it will be too far away for me to go even if there is an East Coast and West Coast con. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on it, though – just in case.